Sunday 18 August 2019

SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka To Waive Visa Fee For 48 Countries, Indefinitely

Due to an increase in the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka with arrivals expected to shoot to the 3-million mark by the end of the year, the government announced on Friday that might waive off the entry visa fee 48 countries, including India, indefinitely.

Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga said that last year Sri Lanka attracted over 2.3 million tourists and had set a target of over 3 million tourists this year, but arrivals had declined since the Easter Sunday suicide attacks on April 21.

But now, tourist arrivals have picked up again after the attacks, and we may see arrivals hit the 3 million mark this year, the Minister said.

Amaratunga added that the sudden surge in tourist arrivals was partly due to waiving off the entry visa fee for the 48 countries.

Sri Lanka implemented this policy from August 1 and it will last for six months.

However Amaratunga said if more tourists arrive in the country, the government might waive off the entry visa fee for these 48 countries indefinitely.

Through the free of charge entry visa policy, travellers from the listed countries will be issued a free 30-day visa and if anyone needs an extension, they will be required to make a payment.

Tourism Observer

SRI LANKA: Travel Scams In Sri Lanka

Travel scams can happen to lots of travellers or tourists.

Tourists have different stories emanating from scams.

I was in Sri Lanka for a block of meetings a few years ago and had an afternoon free. I decided to go for a walk from the hotel along the waterfront and look at the old cannons and anything else I could see.

When you are in meetings for several days, anything outside is better than staying in the hotel.

I had hardly crossed the road when I was approached by a very neatly dressed and extremely polite local who told me that he worked for the hotel I had just left and was I aware of the temple and elephants on display there. To which I said no of course.

Next, he tells me that he is going that way and he can show me the place, but it had to be today as the temple was not open for the rest of the week.

Already I think that this is unnecessary but put it aside in my mind since he worked in the hotel I was staying, or so I thought.

So we start walking toward the central part of the city, and he says it is quite a distance and I might be more comfortable riding on a Tuk Tuk. Before I can say no, he signals one up and I feel obliged to get on.

By now, my feeling is this is not right, and I am getting wary. After a couple of kilometres, we arrive at a temple, and the Tuk Tuk is asked to wait for us.

So we go in, and I pay a donation to the temple as entry, but it was only about 2 Dollars so not bad. The temple was quite lovely and yes it had an elephant, but I would not have rushed out to see it in reality.

After about 30 minutes we leave, and the Tuk Tuk takes us to an emerald store, ah-ha I go in my head – this is a commission trick to get you into store, and they get a cut of the sale.

The emeralds and other stones were very lovely, and I spent about 100 Dollars on a couple of items that I really did not need, but in spite of pushed to buy more, I resisted and made it clear that this was all I was spending.

The pressure is subtle but strong, and I think it would have been hard to have just walked out or refused to enter.

We travel back to the hotel where I am shot with the full cost of the Tuk Tuk there and back of about 30 Dollars. They are clearly working together on this.

At this point, I am over this and as lovely as the chap was I know that it is purely a scam to extract what they can get out of you.

The chap then asked for a contribution for his time at which I point out that he will be getting a commission no doubt on the purchase and probably a cut of the fare and walked quickly back to the hotel much to his annoyance.

Next day I am talking with fellow meeting attendees over coffee and mention this scam and find out that not less than three others had exactly the same experience, although a couple admitted to spending more than I did.

So the message is just because they look the part and sound the part when you are travelling in this part of the world trust no-one.

And no, the chap did not work for the hotel, that was a just ruse to get your trust upfront.

The only plus is I feel I was scammed by one of the best and perhaps smoothest operators that have ever tried one on me.

Take care next time you are in Sri Lanka.

This year around 2.3 million tourist arrivals were recorded, said Tourism Development and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunge.

He further stated that this is a record number of tourist arrivals and more tourists are expected during the next few days of the year as well.

The Minister said as tourists travel the length and breadth of Sri Lanka, the required security and facilities had been provided, adding that the Police Department had been provided Rs. 50 million this year to supply the required security for the tourists visiting the country.

Tourism Observer

ISRAEL: The Vera Hotel In Tel Aviv

Vera Hotel on Lilienblum Street in Tel Aviv assumes the perfect position within three of the city’s distinct neighborhoods, so much so that it could be regarded as the central artery of Tel Aviv itself.

The city’s grandest thoroughfare, Rothschild Boulevard, home to the city’s burgeoning start-ups, shiny high-rises, and upmarket restaurants, is one street away.

Just a touch south of Vera Hotel is the neighborhood of Florentin, where you will find small cafes overflowing with Mediterranean greenery and people with dreadlocks and flowing dresses reading old literary classics from Tolstoy to Nabokov.

Or walk west and you will get to Neve Tzedek, where avant-garde fashion levels, al fresco cafes, jazz bars, and farmers’ markets compete for your time and attention.

If you keep heading westward, you’ll even touch the soft sands of the famous Tel Aviv beach. For a local flavor and to sample Tel Aviv’s famous foods, there’s also Carmel Market nearby.

Vera Hotel occupies the perfect location for any kind of traveler looking to dip their feet in Tel Aviv’s many unique districts, but the hotel woos with its interiors as well.

The Hotel is the first solo project of Tel Aviv native Danny Tamari, who took over a building which once was the city’s maternity hospital, then a bank, then an insurance office.

After Mr. Tamari bought the abandoned building, he took two years to carefully and deliberately source for design elements to incorporate into his property.

The industrial-chic, 39-room project is the result of a collaboration between Tamari and local designer Yaron Tal and the architecture firm Asaf Solomon.

After stripping back the interiors, the lobby was outfitted with bespoke furniture by independent furniture designer Tomer Nachshon, who counts the Northern Israeli city of Haifa as his home and who runs a manufacturing workshop there.

Illuminating the heavier oak, brown, and copper accents throughout the hotel are delicate, naked blown-glass lights by Ohad Benit, a soft-spoken and deeply self-reflective conceptual designer who runs his own label—Studio Mishmaacool—and whose lighting collection, Stress, is among his most well known and celebrated creations.

Not only does Mr. Tamari have the foresight to collaborate with Tel Aviv’s up and coming talents, Ohad Benit, for example, later went on to work with COS, Tamari’s hotel is furthermore the culmination of his strong and sophisticated visual eye.

The color palette throughout the hotel blends shiny copper and brass tones with muted colors and flourishing greenery for a soothing yet classy finish—you never once get the feeling that you’re at a chain hotel; in fact, you may often feel like you can take your shoes off wherever you are.

The hotel lobby’s homey wood floors are complemented with rough plastered walls and a ceramic ceiling put together by upcycling floor tiles. The all day, help-yourself wine vending machine is an attraction not to be missed—decadent vintages from all over Israel make an appearance in this lobby, and can be sampled for free.

The vending machine gives you the choice of a sip size, a medium glass or a full pour—so you can travel to all parts of Israel with your pink, whites, and red wines without getting too imbibed. When you find your favorite, you can have as much of it as you want.

Bring your wine to your bedroom for an evening wind-down, or enjoy it in the open-air courtyard that hugs the hotel lobby.

Better yet, bring it up to the bi-level rooftop, where you have a choice of lounge chairs for sunbathing or for heart-to-heart talks in the evening, or communal tables and couches for more family time and social interaction.

When you finally get the chance to retreat to your bedroom, a mid-century modern-styled bed with grey pillows and silky-soft Egyptian cotton sheets welcomes you, accompanied either by sleek oak side tables or a writing desk - depending on room choice.

Some rooms have slated wood doors that open fully onto a balcony overlooking Lilienblum St, where in the evening, you can watch restaurant goers flow and ease into some of Tel Aviv’s most notable restaurants along the street—for sweet-spicy soups and noodles at Hanoi or the perfectly well-seasoned burgers at Vitrinia Lili.

Looking: Vera Hotel

Where: Lilienblum St 27, Tel Aviv-Yafo

How much? Rooms start at $273

Tourism Observer

THAILAND: Radisson Phuket Mai Khao Beach To Open 2023

Radisson Hotel Group announced the signing of a new upscale Radisson property in Thailand, located on Phuket’s sunset coast, in partnership with Thai-Chinese Property Holdings.

Scheduled to open in 2023, Radisson Phuket Mai Khao Beach is strategically located on the island’s northwest shore, with direct access to Mai Khao Beach – an 11km-long stretch of sand overlooking the Andaman Sea. Just 15 minutes’ drive from Phuket International Airport, this destination is also easily accessible.

Radisson Phuket Mai Khao Beach will feature 222 contemporary rooms and suites. The property will also be able to host events, with a choice of two meeting rooms, a business centre and professional support making this a delightful venue for corporate retreats.

Under a sale and leaseback arrangement, investors will be able to purchase units at Radisson Phuket Mai Khao Beach, providing exclusive privileges and a memorable vacation destination.

The units will be put into a mandatory rental programme, while the operations of the property will be managed by Radisson Hotel Group, enabling investors to benefit from the group’s global distribution reach.

“The signing of this new property reflects our confidence in Thailand’s tourism industry and our strategy of introducing world-class hotels into Asia’s dynamic destinations, including major cities and popular resort destinations,” commented Katerina Giannouka, president of Asia Pacific at Radisson Hotel Group.

Tourism Observer

NIGERIA: Arik Air And Radisson Blu Partner

Arik Air and Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, Lagos are partnering to offer passengers discount on room rates as well as free room upgrade in the five-star hotel.

The offer includes 10per cent off weekend rates, free room upgrade, 15 per cent off buffet meals, 10 per cent off spa treatment and 10 per cent off beauty studio services.

To enjoy the offer, guests are required to present their Arik Air boarding pass not older than one month after flying at Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Starting from 9th to 31st of August, 2019, guests can enjoy the discount offers every day of the week and from 1st September to 31st December, 2019, the offer is available on weekends.

Speaking about the promotion, Arik Air Chief Executive Officer, Captain Roy Ilegbodu said: “We are delighted about this partnership which offers our loyal customers the chance to experience the five-star service of Radisson Blu Anchorage Hotel”.

Radisson Blu Director of Sales and Marketing, Wellington Mpofu commented: “Arik Air is a vibrant, recognizable brand in the region and this partnership complements the strong presence and growth of the Radisson Hotel Group in the continent and beyond. This is a promotion to experience luxury offered by the two entities.”

Tourism Observer

Saturday 17 August 2019

UGANDA: Another Tour Operator Detained For Conning Tourists

The Chief Executive Director of Gatatu Safaris Limited, Richard Tusasibwe has been arrested for allegedly obtaining money by false pretence from tourists.

Tusasiibwe who runs the tour company based in Kigezi sub region was arrested on Monday at around 10:00AM by heavily armed tourist police officers led by Tourism Police Commander-in-charge of Kigezi Region, Emmanuel Tinka.

He was detained at Kabale police station before being paraded before the Kigezi region police detectives later in the afternoon for about three hours.

Police say Tusasibwe is alleged to have signed a contract worth 2150 US dollars equivalent to about shillings 7.9 million with a tourist identified as Dr. Lentschig Markus Gunter, a German national to facilitate a tour with his four family members in Uganda.

Tusasibwe received the whole amount after signing the contract with Gunter.

The contract also required Tusasibwe to pick the tourists from Entebbe International Airport and drive them to Kisoro town as well as booking them accommodation, trekking permits, Park fees, Gorilla and chimpanzee tracking permit, game and boat drive fees, rhino sanctuaries and taxes among others.

Marcus paid a deposit of USD2000 equivalent to Uganda Shillings 7.4million to Tusasibwe to help him on bookings and cleared the balance on July 25, 2019 when he arrived in Uganda.

However, when the tourists reached Kisoro town, Tusasibwe reportedly abandoned them at Chameleon Hill Hotel, switched off his phones and disappeared.

The tourists were shocked to find that Tusasibwe did not book for them accommodation, despite having received full payment. It is when they reported the matter to police for help that Tusasibwe was tracked.

Elly Maate, police spokesperson for Kigezi region says that Tusasibwe had been on the run until Monday when he was arrested while hiding in Lake Bunyonyi.

Maate says that the suspect will face the law after investigations into the matter are complete.

The case is registered at Kabale Police station under file number CRB 1180/2019.

On July 31, 2019, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during a press conference on operation wealth creation held at State Lodge Makanga in Kabale district ordered for the the arrest of tour operators who cheat tourists and described them as enemies of the country.

Tusasibwe had earlier said refuting all the allegations saying that they had agreed that he is paid shillings 7.3 million but was paid only shillings 5.5 million after the tourists said that they would book the accommodation themselves.

Tusasibwe also denied abandoning the tourists, but says he separated with them after failing to agree on contract terms and conditions.

In February, Didan Atukunda a resident of Kabale district and a tour operator from Mamba Gorilla Safari was arrested after he failed to refund 99 million shillings that was mistakenly sent to his account by a Dutch tourist for a gorilla trekking trip.

Peter Nickilin from the Netherlands paid 110 million shillings instead of 11 million shillings for a trip to trek Gorillas in October 2017.

Tourism Observer

KENYA: Fly540 Tyre Gets Stuck In Pothole, Pilot Aborts Take off

A Fly540 pilot was forced to abort take-off after realising one of the plane’s tyre was stuck in a pothole on the runway at the Manda Airport in Lamu County, southeastern Kenya.

The 36 scared passengers aboard the Nairobi-bound plane disembarked during the Sunday 12.30pm incident. No one was hurt.

Engineers and other airport staff were called and had to dig the plane’s left tyre out of the pothole using shovels and hoes.

The plane was about to take-off but it was difficult. The pilot had to stop abruptly especially after realising that one of the plane’s tyres was stuck in a huge pothole on the runway.

Engineers and airport staff had to be called and assisted in pushing the plane out and parked it at a safer location on the runway from where it was finally able to take-off safely.

All was fine as the plane taxied on the runway ready for take-off.

Trouble came just seconds as the plane started to lift its wings in readiness to fly. We saw the tyre on the left side stuck inside a huge hole on the runway.

We thank God that the pilot acted swiftly and switched off the engine of the plane. It was a scary moment said an eye witness.

A Fly540 official who spoke to journalists at the Manda Airport said checks were made later to ensure the plane was in good condition after the incident.

The plane was to take-off at exactly 12.30pm but the issue caused a delay. It took off at 12.54pm after checks were made to ensure the incident hadn’t created any other issue that could interfere with the flight.

Following the Sunday incident, travelling agencies, tourist stakeholders and passengers have called on the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to urgently intervene and reconstruct the Manda Airport runway.

The airport was put on the spotlight in 2017, when Kenya Airways' low-cost airline Jambojet suspended flights citing dilapidated conditions.

At the time, Jambojet said the apron, taxiway and runway were in bad shape, making it difficult for aircrafts to land or take-off.

Aviation stakeholders said the poor state of the airport puts lives at risk.

We’ve raised the issue concerning the poor state of our airport, particularly the runway but our calls over the years to have it reconstructed have not been successful.

As we speak, the airport runway is covered in massive potholes which continue to pose a danger to navigation. Should we wait until a fatal accident occurs?

Mr Ibrahim Abdalla, a tour guide, called for expansion of the airport saying visits to Lamu have increased.

The high tourist season has already begun and the Manda Airport seems to be overwhelmed with the increased number of carriers plying the region. It’s better they reconstruct and expand the airport and also introduce 24-hour operations. Lamu is growing, said Mr Abdalla.

Tourism Observer

Friday 16 August 2019

SOUTH SUDAN: Crown Hotel Will Be Razed Down Within 7 Days

Jubek State authorities say they will bulldoze business properties along the May Road near Juba International Airport.

According to the state minister for physical infrastructure, these are some parts of Crown Hotel, Sahara Hotel and other several buildings along the road.

The planned demolition comes after the city authorities and state government surveyed the airport area recently.

They intend to expand the road section and build a bridge over the seasonal stream near Crown Hotel.

“We want to build that road as a services alternative road because we want to close this one to build a concrete bridge here,” Francis Swaka, state minister of physical infrastructure, told reporters during a pre-demolition survey at the site on Thursday.

Nearly two weeks ago, a road engineer said the buildings have been blocking flood waters – causing the Juba International Airport to flood.

Francis Swaka the Minister for Physical Infrastructure Jubek State says the demolition is an alternative to widen the road and construct the bridge around Crown Hotel.

“We’ve already notified some of the citizens there and given them 7 days after which we will come and demolish whichever building falls on the road land because this is a public road,” Swaka stressed.

Speaking at the same venue, the Deputy Mayor for Development and Infrastructure at the Juba City Council, Thiik Thiik Mayardit, asked the affected individuals and companies to pave the way for rehabilitation process.

This is because the engineers had earlier complained to Jubek State authorities about some affected individuals who are resisting the exercise.

Thiik Thiik warned of consequence should anybody interfere with the demolition.

This is for the benefit of the population, not for our own benefit. The police will be with us to stop anybody who is resisting the demolition, he stated.

Located at the landside borders of Juba Airport in South Sudan, Crown Hotel consist of 120 well-furnished luxury rooms and suites.

It provides to its distinguished clientele, a 5 stars services in addition to professional events. All to entertain international visitors and be on the level satisfying its international customers requirements.

The hotel provides the right blend of service, luxury and quiet efficiency. It combines state of the art facilities with dependable service in a caring environment, presenting the ideal choice for business and leisure travelers.

Tourism Observer

Thursday 15 August 2019

CHINA: Sichuan Local Culture & Cuisine

In the markets and streets as well as the village roads throughout Sichuan, you can see teahouses with unique Sichuan styles. Sitting in bamboo chairs, people gather around wooden tables, hold special tea wares exclusively owned by the teahouse and take a sip of fragrant tea.

What the visitors see and experience by is what the culture of Sichuan has to offer. The culture of Sichuan originated from today’s Sichuan province.

It exerts an influence on areas such as Tianshui to the north, Hanzhong as well as eastern Yunnan and western Guizhou to the south, and it survives and prevails in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

Like any other culture in China, it is an important part of Chinese culture with a long history and striking local features. The Sanxing Pile historic site was unearthed in Guanghan, Sichuan in 1986 proving that Sichuan culture has been prosperous as early as 4000 years ago.

2000 years ago, Sichuan, the kingdom of silks, opened the southwest Silk Road, which started from Chengdu and ended in Mid Asia and Europe by passing Burma and India.

It was through this road that famous Sichuan silks, brocades, porcelains and tea leaves were exported to other countries and such items as jewelries, jades, pearls, seashells and glasses were introduced to Sichuan.

This road opened a door of cross-cultural communications between Sichuan and other regions. Characterized by various patterns and exquisite embroidery, the Sichuan brocades back then were looked on as the symbol of Chinese culture.

The prosperity of the Sichuan culture causes its gathering of outstanding scholars and talented people. Guo Moruo, the late renowned Sichuan writer, said in his famous masterpiece The Anecdotes of Sichuan, “Since educationalist Wen Weng vigorously subsidized the cultural and educational undertakings in Sichuan, such historical figures as Yangxiong and Sima Xiangru stood out one after another. Thus, most of the poets, like Libai in the Tang Dynasty and Sushi in the Northern Song Dynasty, are from Sichuan.”

Apart from educationalist Wen Weng, classical Chinese poet Yangxiong, Sima Xiangru, poet Libai and writer Sushi mentioned above, such as great poets Dufu, Luyou and Huang Tingjian have lived in Sichuan. Dufu wrote nearly 1/3 of his poems in Sichuan.

In the past, the prosperity of literacy creation served as a driving force behind the rapid development of the printing industry in Sichuan. In the Tang Dynasty over 1,200 years ago, Chengdu is the most prosperous and the important printing center that was as famous as Chang’an in today’s Xi’an and its nearby areas.

It was in the Song Dynasty that the block printing industry in Sichuan witnessed its unprecedented growth. It was recorded that the block printing of Sichuan in the Song Dynasty tops that elsewhere.

The culture of Sichuan has a long and glorious history. As early as in the trace of human activity, the Wushan people and Ziyang people once lived in Sichuan.

A saying goes like this, “The people from western and eastern Sichuan shared the same ancestors.” As Chinese civilization developed, the culture of Sichuan glowed with dazzling light in successive dynasties.

Up until now, Sichuan remains a renewed and important part of Chinese culture.

Sichuan Cuisine
Kung Pao chicken
Sichuan is well known for its spicy cuisine and use of Sichuan peppers due to its more humid climate. The Sichuanese are proud of their cuisine, known as one of the Four Great Traditions of Chinese cuisine.

The cuisine here is of one dish, one shape, hundreds of dishes, hundreds of tastes, as the saying goes, to describe its acclaimed diversity.

The most prominent traits of Sichuanese cuisine are described by four words: spicy, hot, fresh and fragrant.

Sichuan cuisine is popular in the whole nation of China, so are Sichuan chefs. Two well-known Sichuan chefs are Chen Kenmin and his son Chen Kenichi, who was Iron Chef Chinese on the Japanese television series "Iron Chef".

Another famous Sichuan cuisine is hotpot. Hot pot is a Chinese soup containing a variety of East Asian foodstuffs and ingredients, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table.

While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat, leaf vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, tofu, and seafood. The cooked food is usually eaten with a dipping sauce.

Sichuan cuisine is one of the eight most famous cuisines in China and it’s various. A saying describes the Sichuan dishes like this, “The dishes are rich in taste and diversity”.

In people’s mind, Sichuan food is generally famous for its spicy taste. Saute, home-cooked, fried and boiled food is characterized by their unique flavors.

They are definitely scrumptious! Double-cooked pork slices, fried chicken, duck smoked with tea leaves and steamed fish in soy bean sauce allure the guests with their unique fragrances. The delicious Sichuan dishes have already become popular all around the country.

Famous dishes are Mapo tofu, cold dish with eight flavors, duck smoked with tea leaves, sliced meat with crispy rice, pork shreds with fish seasoning, kung pao chicken, hot and sour beef tendon, saute meat dumplings with pork slices.

Double-cooked pork slices, diced beef with water flour, stir-fried duck tongues with bamboo shoots, poached sliced beef in hot chili oil, braised Dongpo pork hock with brown sauce, steamed beef with rice flour, boiled fish with pickled cabbage and chili, etc.

Yangxixian and Zijin Residential Area are the places where you can taste delicious Sichuan dishes since there are many excellent restaurants scattering around there.

Recommended restaurants are Hongxin Restaurant, Da Ronghe, Honghe Weidao the place where director Zhang Yimou once made the propaganda film for Chengdu and Mother Zhou and Xiyanghong.

When it comes to Sichuan dishes, there is nothing more famous than hotpot.

Characterized by its variety, spicy taste and convenience, hotpot has quickly won over the hearts of the people all over the country. Sichuan hotpots are various; there are dozens of soups of the hotpots; the raw materials for making hotpots defy enumeration.

In a word, anything eatable can be boiled or cooked in the hotpots. In recent years, searing hotpot has derived from the traditional hotpots.

Popular traditional hotpot restaurants are Huangcheng Laoma, Shu Jiuxiang, Sanguo Yanyi, Chuanjiang Haozi, Wuding, etc. And the famous special hotpot restaurants are Tianmei Niqiu, San Zhier, Tubaguo and Yiba Gu, etc.

The most popular place for enjoying hotpots is Funan New Developed Area—the special hotpot street. There are dozens of big and small hotpot restaurants scattering there: San Zhier, Kong Liang, Liu Yishou, Gourmet Huang Hopot, Zeng Shiji Loach Hotpot, Zhaolao Goose Sausage Hotpot, Baba Yan Duck Sausage Hotpot, Abalone Hotpot, Kaiyuan Delicious Hotpot, etc.

There is also chicken and bamboo shoots hotpot, sliced pork and radish soup hotpot, shrimps hotpot, dainties of every kind hotpot, frog hotpot, etc.

Tourism Observer

Tuesday 6 August 2019

NEPAL: Tenzing–Hillary Airport The Most Dangerous Airport In The World

Tenzing–Hillary Airport, also known as Lukla Airport, is a small airport in the town of Lukla, in Khumbu, Solukhumbu District, Province No. 1, eastern Nepal.

A program titled Most Extreme Airports, broadcast on The History Channel in 2010, rated the airport as the most dangerous airport in the world for over 20 years.

The airport is popular because Lukla is the place where most people start the climb to Mount Everest Base Camp.

There are daily flights between Lukla and Kathmandu during daylight hours in good weather. Although the flying distance is short, rain commonly occurs in Lukla while the sun is shining brightly in Kathmandu.

High winds, cloud cover, and changing visibility often mean flights can be delayed or the airport closed. The airport is contained within a chain link fence and patrolled by the Nepali armed police or civil police around the clock.

The airport was built in 1964 under the supervision of Edmund Hillary, who originally intended to build the airport on flat farmlands. However, local farmers did not want to give up their land, so the airport was built at its current position.

Hillary bought the land from local Sherpas for US$2,650 and involved them in building the facilities.

It has been said that Hillary was unhappy with the runway's soil resistance, and that his solution was to buy local liquor for the Sherpas and ask them to perform a foot-stomping dance to flatten the land that served as the runway. The runway was not paved until 2001.

In January 2008, the airport was renamed in honor of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first people confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest, and also to mark their efforts in the construction of this airport.

The airport's paved asphalt runway is accessible only to helicopters and small, fixed-wing, short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft such as the De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, Dornier Do 228, L-410 Turbolet and Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter.

The runway is 527 m (1,729 ft) × 30 m (98 ft) with an 11.7% gradient. The airport's elevation is 9,334 ft (2,845 m).

The airport is used for passenger flights and for transporting most of the building materials and cargo to Lukla and other towns and villages to the north of Lukla, as there is no road to this region.

In the early morning, the wind is usually from the north-east, changing to a south-west wind from mid to late morning due to the action of the sun on the mountains to the north of Lukla.

The airport regularly closes from mid to late morning due to the strong south-west winds that create crosswind tailwinds. Consequently, flights are usually scheduled for the early morning.

Sudden loss of visibility preventing planes from landing under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) will result in the immediate closure of the airport with no warning.

Although the airport is available throughout the year, visibility problems close the airport 50% of the time during the monsoon season with a consequent cancellation of 50% of flights.

Due to the terrain and the low possibility of a safe go-around for a missed approach, there are no go-around procedures for this airport.

Tenzing–Hillary Airport is frequently referred to as the most dangerous airport in the world.

Arriving and departing aircraft must use a single runway, 06 for landing and 24 for takeoff. There is a low prospect of a successful go-around on short final approach due to the terrain.

There is high terrain immediately beyond the northern end of the runway and a steeply angled drop at the southern end of the runway into the valley below.

Due to the difficulties of successfully landing at the airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal sets high standards, for which only experienced pilots, who completed at least 100 short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) missions, have over one year of STOL experience in Nepal and completed ten missions into Lukla with a certified instructor pilot, are allowed to land at the airport.

There are plans to construct five new helipads at the airport by 2020 and expand the terminal and runway.

On 15 October 1973, a Royal Nepal Airlines DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (registration 9N-ABG) was damaged beyond repair on landing. The three crew and three passengers were unhurt.

On 9 June 1991, a Royal Nepal Airlines DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (registration 9N-ABA) from Kathmandu crashed at the airport while attempting to land following an unstabilized approach in bad weather. The three crew and fourteen passengers escaped with injuries.

On 26 September 1992, a Royal Air Nepal Harbin Yunshuji Y-12-II (registered 9N-ACI) faltered during takeoff and was damaged beyond repair. All twelve passengers and two crew survived.

On 25 May 2004, while on approach to the airport, a Yeti Airlines DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (registration 9N-AFD) from Kathmandu crashed into Lamjura Hill in heavy clouds. No passengers were on board; all three crew members were killed.

The Nepalese accident investigation committee concluded that the captain provided inaccurate information about his position to the Area Control Centre.[28]
On 1 October 2004, on landing at the airport, a Sita Air Dornier Do 228 suffered a collapse of its nose gear and slid along the runway, blocking it once it had come to rest. The airport was closed for two days.

On 30 June 2005, a Gorkha Airlines Dornier Do 228 skidded off the runway while attempting to land. The nine passengers and three crew suffered minor injuries. The aircraft was reportedly withdrawn from service and written off after the accident.

On 8 October 2008, Yeti Airlines Flight 103, a DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (registration 9N-AFE) crashed on final approach and caught fire, killing eighteen passengers and crew. The aircraft's captain was the only survivor. Video of the incident showed inclement weather at the time of the incident.

On 12 October 2010, a Sita Air Dornier Do 228 (registration 9N-AHB) lost braking control and struck the wall-end of the runway during landing. All passengers and crew escaped injury; the aircraft's nose was damaged.

On 26 September 2013, an Air Dynasty helicopter (registration 9N-AEX) crashed when the rear rotor touched the barbed wire of the compound wall at the airport. All three passengers and the captain survived.

On 27 May 2017, Summit Air Flight 409 was performing a freight flight on a Let L-410 from Kathmandu to Lukla (Nepal) with three crew, was on final approach to Lukla's runway 06 at about 14:04L (08:19Z) with poor visibility when the aircraft lost altitude and touched a tree short of the runway before contacting ground about 3 meters/10 feet below the runway level.

The aircraft slid down the slope before coming to a rest about 200 meters below the runway level. The captain was killed and the first officer, Shrijan Manandhar, died in hospital almost eight hours later.

The third crew member received injuries and was evacuated to Kathmandu the following day after the weather had cleared.

On 14 April 2019, at 9:10 am a Summit Air Let L-410 Turbolet aircraft, registration 9N-AMH, with no passengers on board veered right and left the runway on take off from Lukla Airport and struck a Manang Air Eurocopter AS 350B3e helicopter registration 9N-ALC on the helipad 30 to 50 metres from the runway destroying the plane and the helicopter.

A second helicopter, Shree Airlines Eurocopter AS 350, 9N-ALK, on the helipad sustained little or no damage. The three reported fatalities were the co-pilot of the plane and a police officer on airport security duty who died in the crash and a second police officer who was critically injured and airlifted to Kathmandu where he died in hospital.

The four reported injured include the pilot of the plane and a Manang Air helicopter pilot who were injured and flown to a hospital in Kathmandu where they were reported to be out of danger.

Tenzing–Hillary Airport in eastern Nepal, also known as Lukla Airport, is notorious for being the world’s most dangerous airport. Despite this, the airport is popular due to it’s proximity to Katmandu, where most climbers begin their ascent up Mount Everest.

The aircrafts involved belonged to private companies that transport locals, climbers and tourists to the remote Everest region.

The short runway (527m) has a 600m drop at the end of it. The airport’s altitude stands at 2,845m, giving pilots little time for descent before landing. The runway is surrounded by mountains, making takeoff and landing very tricky.

Unpredictable weather, no navigation aids and no night operations all contribute to the danger of this airport. Watch to see an airplane landing at the infamous airport here.

More than 300 people have died attempting to reach the summit of Mount Everest, with countless more injured.

Yet the dangers begin well before trekkers even reach base camp. The most common way hikers reach the area is to fly to the tiny Himalayan settlement of Lukla, 9,383 feet above sea level.

The alternatives all involve several days trekking, and so multiple flights carry hikers between Kathmandu and Lukla every day. Although the flight time is just 25-30 minutes, the two airports are as different as night and day.

Airports can be challenging to pilots for many reasons, as seen on this list of dangerous airports in Europe. Sometimes it's the short runway as on many Greek islands.

Places like Gibraltar suffer from regular wind shear, while mountainous terrain surrounding airports like Innsbruck creates obvious risks. Airports at high-altitude present dangers due to the effect that low air pressure has on the handling of an airplane.

Tenzin-Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal, has not just one, but all of these dangers.

While far from being the world's highest civilian airport—that honor goes to Daocheng Yading Airport in China's Sichuan province—Lukla's altitude is still more than enough to cause pilots problems.

The airport is surrounded on all sides by steep, mountainous terrain. The short runway is perched on little more than a mountain shelf. At one end there's a wall and at the other a steep drop into the valley below.

At these altitudes, air density is considerably lower than at sea level and that has a detrimental impact on the amount of power generated by the aircraft engines, reducing lift.

Reduced air resistance also makes it more challenging to slow the plane down. At high altitudes, the longer the runway, the better.

Unfortunately for pilots landing at Lukla, the airport runway is extremely short at just 1,729 feet long. Runways at many of the world's international airports are more than 10,000 feet long.

So short is Lukla's runway that it slopes uphill with a gradient of almost 12% to assist planes in slowing down in time.

To make matters worse, there is so little opportunity for a missed approach because of the surrounding mountains that there are no go-around procedures.

Once an aircraft starts its approach, it must touch down. Given these factors, only helicopters and small fixed-wing propellor planes are permitted to land.

Weather in the Himalayas is highly unpredictable. Sudden mist, fog, rainstorms or snow are always possible. Despite the short distance and short flight-time, the weather in Lukla can often be completely different from Kathmandu, and frequently changes while the airplane is on its way.

In such circumstances, planes turn around and return to Kathmandu. Afternoons are so frequently cloudy that most flights are scheduled for the early morning. Cancellations from Lukla are common.

Some airports considered challenging or even dangerous by pilots have an exemplary safety record. That's not the case at Lukla, where there has been a list of incidents into double figures. Many of the more recent ones have even been caught on camera.

The most notable occurred in 2008 when Yeti Airlines Flight 103 crashed into the mountain a few feet below the start of the runway. The pilot lost visual contact in heavy fog during final approach but attempted a visual landing nevertheless.

All 16 passengers and two of the three crew were killed. The pilot was the only survivor.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal now sets high standards for pilots. To land at Lukla, pilots must have completed 100 short-takeoff-and-landing flights, have at least one year of such experience in Nepal and have successfully completed ten flights into Lukla with a certified instructor.

There is a technical study underway to assess the feasibility of a runway extension, although this would be limited to just 100 feet. Construction of a new helipad is also underway to increase passenger capacity.

Tourism Observer

UNITED KINGDOM:Two Pilots Arrested At Glasgow Airport For Over Limit Booze.

Two pilots have been arrested at Glasgow Airport for allegedly being over the limit before attempting to fly this morning.

It is believed the two men failed breath tests before boarding a United Airlines flight from the Scottish airport to the US.

The two men, aged 61 and 45, were arrested by police on suspicion of being under the influence of drink or drugs, before they were due to fly to Newark in New Jersey.

The flight, number UA162 was due to leave at 9am but was cancelled after the pair’s arrest. Both men are pilots, a Police Scotland spokesman confirmed, and are due to appear in court on Tuesday.

The police spokesman said Police Scotland can confirm that two men aged 61 and 45 years old have been arrested and remanded in custody pending a scheduled court appearance on Tuesday August 6 on suspicion of offences under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, section 97.

The law covers offences where aviation staff are intoxicated by either alcohol or drugs, with punishments of up to two years in prison or a fine if found guilty.

The limit for alcohol in the breath for pilots specified as 9 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres, less than half the 22 microgrammes limit for drivers in Scotland.

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: This morning Police Scotland did attend before the United Airlines flight UA162, going to Newark.

In response to a question on Twitter about the flight cancellation, United Airlines wrote: ‘We regret that our flight for today from GLA to EWR, UA162, has been cancelled because of crew availability.’

A United Airlines spokesman said the safety of their customers and crew is always our top priority.

We hold all of our employees to the highest standards and have a strict, no tolerance policy for alcohol, he added.

These pilots were immediately removed from service and we are fully cooperating with local authorities. At this time, we are working to get our customers back on their journey as soon as possible.

Tourism Observer

NIGERIA: Woman Murdered In Owerri hotel

A middle aged woman has been found dead in a hotel in Owerri. The lady was said to have checked into the hotel located at World Bank area of Owerri municipal with a male partner.

It was gathered that the woman was discovered dead weekend by a cleaner.

An eyewitness said, i learnt, occurred during the weekend at a popular hotel along World Bank Road in Owerri, and the corpse was said to be found by a cleaner while trying to tidy up the room.

Identifying the deceased has been quite difficult as the killer fled with her belongings, including her clothes and underwear.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Orlando Ikeokwu, who confirmed the incident yesterday, said the victim’s identity was not known yet.

Tourism Observer

TAIWAN: Japanese Tourism Expected To Shoot Up After News Of China's Tourist Ban

On Aug. 1, the Chinese government announced that it would be suspending all individual permits for travel to Taiwan, forcing Chinese citizens hoping to visit the country to join officially approved tour groups instead.

The move is widely seen as an attempted political maneuver to damage Taiwan’s economy ahead of the January 2020 elections.

While Taiwan is likely to see a major dip in tourism from China in the coming months, there are reasons to be optimistic, as the sudden drop in Chinese visitors will make Taiwan’s popular tourist destinations less crowded.

Japanese website Zakzak is encouraging Japanese vacationers to consider visiting Taiwan in 2019 on account of decreased crowds and potential travel deals offered by hotels and tour operators to make up for losses.

Now is a “great chance” to visit Taiwan, which is regularly a top destination for Japanese tourists.

In 2013, there were 1.24 million Japanese visitors to Taiwan, but by 2017 that number had increased to 1.9 million, reports Zakzak.

That number is likely to continue increasing in the years ahead.

This year, during the high summer travel season of July 15 to Aug. 31, Taiwan expects to see around 240,000 visitors from Japan, which is an 8.3 percent increase over the same period in 2018.

According to Zakzak, many Japanese travel agencies report that Taiwan is consistently a top choice for customers looking to book vacations.

The island's geographic proximity, relative safety, low-cost travel options, and welcoming attitude towards Japanese visitors make it an ideal destination for short trips.

Tourism Observer

TAIWAN: EVA Air, Flight Attendant Fired For Joking She Would "Add Ingredients" To A Captain's Food

EVA Air estimated 02-Aug-2019 it will compensate TWD805 million (USD25.5 million) to passengers due to the cabin crew strike.

The airline also signed agreement with Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union to increase the bonus for cabin crew, estimating an increase of TWD175 million (USD5.5 million) in expense.

Taipei-based airline fully resumes normal operations after the longest strike by cabin crew in the airline’s history.

In a short statement, the airline said it was reinforcing preventive measures to ensure every passenger’s flight safety because of threatened malicious actions that have made passengers anxious about flying with EVA Air.

The airline called out members of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union who led the strike in a bitter dispute over pay and conditions for making the threats.

The allegations include:

- A threat not to close cabin doors properly

- Tampering with inflight meals for passengers and crew

- Bullying crew members who didn’t take part in the strike

It’s believed that EVA Air sacked the leader of the union earlier this month after she made several jokes that she claims were misinterpreted as threats.

Kuo Chi-yen is alleged to have threated to add something to flight crew meals for anyone who crossed the picket line and helped break the strike.

In another comment, Kuo was alleged to have said she would pummel strike-breaking flight attendants.

She argued that the comments were made in response to excessive criticism of the union but EVA Air reported her to police on suspicion of breaching the Civil Aviation Act.

After an EVA Air flight attendant and union leader was fired for joking that she would "add ingredients" to a captain's entree, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) wants a full explanation from the air carrier.

Kuo Chi-yen, former EVA Air flight attendant and director of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants' Union (TFAU) was dismissed on July 11 by the airline for making a joke about "adding ingredients" to the captain's meal during the flight attendant strike.

Now the U.S. DOT wants an explanation of the incident.

EVA Air confirmed on Sunday July 21 that the DOT had notified it of complaints from passengers about the incident and that the company would respond to the current situation.

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said last week that EVA Air had informed it of the incident.

Because Eva Air operates flights to the U.S., the DOT sent a letter to the air carrier, requesting that it reply to the threat by the former flight attendant.

The CAA also indicated that it had asked EVA Air to properly explain the situation and maintain normal flight operations in the U.S.

At 12:24 a.m. on July 9, Kuo released a post on the TFAU Facebook page in which she admitted that her statements about "pummeling" anti-strike flight attendants and "adding ingredients" to the captain's entree were inappropriate, emphasizing that they were meant as jokes.

She said that she was sorry that the comments led to misunderstandings and she would accept the company's investigation.

After learning of Kuo's comments, EVA Air said it had reported the case to the police on July 9 because of the serious impact it had on cabin order and flight safety.

On July 11, the company's personnel review committee found that Kuo's actions obviously violated the company's management rules regarding cabin crew members.

The committee also found that there was a possible unlawful infringement against company staff in the workplace that may have violated the relevant provisions of the Civil Aviation Act and the Criminal Code.

The circumstances were considered so serious that the company decided to dismiss her with immediate effect, and her case has now entered the judicial process.

The CAA said that because the case has entered the judicial process, it will respect the court's judgment.

If the prosecution does not indict Kuo, it said it will review her cause under civil aviation law.

Kuo reportedly went to the Luzhu precinct of the Taoyuan Police Department on the afternoon of July 13 to file a report.

Tourism Observer

SRI LANKA: Visitor Arrivals To Sri Lanka Decline 47% In Jul-2019

Sri Lanka‘s Tourism Development Authority reported 05-Aug-2019 visitor arrivals to Sri Lanka for Jul-2019.

Details include:

Visitor arrivals: 115,701, -46.9% year-on-year;

- India: 18,309, -41.0%;

- UK: 13,010, -48.4%;

- Germany: 8385, -22.5%;

- France: 7142, -36.8%;

- China (including Hong Kong and Macau): 6926, -74.8%;

- Netherlands: 6385, -52.1%;

- Australia: 5619, -36.2%;

- Maldives: 3875, -39.0%;

- Canada: 3826, -36.4%;

- US: 2974, -58.5%.

Sri Lanka tourism showed signs of revival in July with an 83 percent increase in tourist arrivals from the previous month after plunging over 70 percent following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on churches and hotels.

According to the latest data from the Tourism Ministry, total number of international tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka during July was 115,701, up from 63,072 reported in June 2019.

However, in comparison to July 2018, there was a decline of 46.9 percent when the arrivals were 217,829.

In July the largest source market for tourists was India, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany.

As at 31st July 2019, 1,124,150 of tourists had visited Sri Lanka for this year. It is a decline of 18.7% over last year when 1,382,476 of tourists has visited the country during the same period.

Europe became the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 50% of the total traffic received in July 2019.

Asia and Pacific accounted for 38% of the total traffic, America 6%, Middle East 5% and Africa 1%.

The total number of visitors to the island hit a record 2.33 million in 2018, up 10.3 percent compared to 2017.

India, United Kingdom, Germany, France and China were Sri Lankas top five international tourist generating markets in the month of July this year.

India was the largest source of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka with 16% of the total traffic received in July 2019. United Kingdom accounted for 11% of the total traffic; while Germany, France and China accounted for 7% and 6% both respectively.

Tourism Observer

Monday 5 August 2019

ETHIOPIA: Ethiopia Airlines Opens Luxury 5 Star Ethiopian Skylight Hotel In Addis Ababa

Ethiopian Airlines Group have opened a five-star Ethiopian Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the airline revealed in a statement this week.

Located five minutes away from Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, the five-star hotel aims to increase the number of tourists entering the country, providing seamless hospitality services to the Ethiopian Airline partners and transit passengers.

The Skylight Hotel will meet the international standards with 373 rooms, three luxurious restaurants and an executive lounge.

The hotel offers three separate day-light and two VIP private meeting rooms for corporate meetings, a Grand Ballroom that seats 2000 people and a Health Club with outdoor swimming pool, mini-golf courses, a spa and massage room and gym.

Abel Alemu, Ethiopian Airline’s Southern African Regional Manager, said: “We sincerely look forward to establishing a long-term relationship with our guests to ensure that our staff deliver the best hospitality services to our clients.

Ethiopian Airlines Group gives the highest priorities to its customers and partners, ready to provide everyone with the best service experience, he said.

Ethiopian Skylight Hotel is located at the heart of Addis Ababa, just five minutes away from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Meeting international standards with outstanding quality of service, Africa’s commercial hub awaits you.

A total of 373 stunning rooms with relaxing and superb designs are suitable for both corporate and leisure travellers.

Enjoy spectacular city view in most of our rooms. Comprising 3 luxurious restaurants – All-Day Dining Restaurant, the biggest Chinese Restaurant in East Africa, and a Traditional Ethiopian Restaurant to be opened soon, and bars heighten your hotel experience.

The Lobby Lounge and the Front Lobby are spacious enough for social and business meetings.

Grand Ballroom which can accommodate 2000 guests at a time can also be divided into 5 individual halls along with spacious foyer area, accommodating 500-800 guests.

It is ideal for tailor-made social events, weddings and conferences. 3 separate day-light and 2 other VIP private meeting rooms are fit for your corporate meeting demands.

The outstanding facilities of the hotel include, outdoor swimming pool, mini-golf courses, spa/massage, gymnasium and health centre.

CANADA: Ontario Airport Consistent Increase In Passenger Volume

Nearly 2.6 million travelers flew in and out of Ontario International Airport (ONT) in the first half of the year, an increase of 6.5% compared to the first six months of last year.

According to the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA), more than 2.4 million were domestic passengers while more than 148,000 were international customers, increases of 4.5% and 57%, respectively.

In June, the total number of ONT passengers was more than 477,000, an increase of 9.6% over June a year ago.

The number of domestic travelers grew 9.4% to more than 451,000. International passengers increased 12.6% to more than 26,000.

Ontario airport experienced significant growth in passenger volume during the first six months of the year as airlines initiated new services to major airports in Atlanta, Houston and San Francisco and added flights to existing routes, said Mark Thorpe, chief executive officer of the OIAA.

Air travelers can now reach 21 major domestic and international destinations via nonstop commercial service from ONT.

Due to the great work of our staff and support of our community, local control is proving successful for ONT, said Alan Wapner, OIAA President. "

The growth in commercial service is a reflection of the strong demand for air travel in the Inland Empire and the many steps we have taken to provide facilities, amenities and services that appeal to business and leisure travelers, not to mention the positive, hassle-free customer service experience which distinguishes ONT.

From January through June, cargo volume was up 3.7% to more than 364,000 tons compared to the same period last year. Cargo shipments were essentially flat in June, growing 0.7% over the same month in 2018 to nearly 63,000 tons.

Ontario International Airport (ONT) is the fastest growing airport in the United States, according to Global Traveler, a leading publication for frequent fliers.

Located in the Inland Empire, ONT is approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the center of Southern California.

It is a full-service airport with nonstop commercial jet service to 21 major airports in the U.S., Mexico and Taiwan, and connecting service to many domestic and international destinations. There is an average of 67 daily departures offered by nine air carriers.

The Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) was formed in August 2012 by a Joint Powers Agreement between the City of Ontario and the County of San Bernardino to provide overall direction for the management, operations, development and marketing of ONT for the benefit of the Southern California economy and the residents of the airport's four-county catchment area.

OIAA Commissioners are Ontario City Council Member Alan D. Wapner (President), Retired Riverside Mayor Ronald O. Loveridge (Vice President), Ontario City Council Member Jim W. Bowman (Secretary), San Bernardino County Supervisor Curt Hagman (Commissioner) and retired business executive Julia Gouw (Commissioner).

The number of passengers passing through Ontario International Airport (ONT) in Southern California has been growing significantly since it was transferred to the City of Ontario in 2015.

With the new local ownership, Ontario has brought new airlines, increased the number of flights and destinations, and added new eateries and remodeled facilities to entice travelers to use the airport located approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The new ownership and investment by the City of Ontario have proved to be worthy as this past summer travel season has been the busiest travel season Ontario has ever seen in its history.

This August alone, passenger volume grew by more than 18 percent. The number of arriving and departing passengers totaled 458,029 – an increase of over 18 percent from August 2017 when ONT welcomed 387,351 travelers.

Domestic travel went up 16.2 percent from a year ago and international travel more than 82.5 percent an increase of 22,339 passengers mostly because of China Airlines’ new daily Airbus A350 service to Taiwan which began in March 2018.

Ontario Airport has welcomed Frontier Airlines’ low-cost service this year and this August saw the start of Frontier Airlines’ daily, non-stop service to Orlando.

Earlier this month, JetBlue also re-launched nonstop service to New York’s JFK Airport.

Furthermore, China Airlines’ new service to Taipei has proven to be popular amongst Asia-bound travelers wanting to avoid the traffic and lines at LAX. According to the airport, China Airlines’ load capacity is at 80 percent each way.

Ontario also recently completed multi-million upgrades of the airport’s dining and retail concessions. This investment has brought in popular dining brands to a once bland terminal such as Einstein Bros. Bagels, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Rock & Brews, and WPizza by Wolfgang Puck.

Like LAX with Westfield Group, Ontario Airport is also rebranding and refurbishing its concessions to provide a better and more enticing experience for travelers.

The consistent increases in passenger volume affirm what we are doing to develop Ontario into a world-class gateway and create a first-rate airport experience,said Alan Wapner, President of Ontario’s Airport Authority.

Our customers demand a smooth, hassle-free experience along with popular services and amenities, and we are dedicated to meeting their expectations.

This is only the beginning for Ontario as the airport expects these strong double-digit numbers to get even better in the months ahead with the newly-added flights and investment in upgraded traveler amenities.

Tourism Observer

NEW ZEALAND: Air New Zealand Makes Emergency Landing Christchurch Airport

A passenger on a plane that made an emergency landing at Christchurch Airport has described the panic as passengers scrambled to evacuate, jumping "into the arms" of ground staff.

The Air New Zealand plane, flying from Christchurch to Dunedin, returned to the ground soon after taking off about 2pm on Monday after a smoke indicator light illuminated about 15 minutes after take off.

Well-known Christchurch garden enthusiast Robyn Kilty​ was one of the 65 passengers on board, and felt Air New Zealand minimised what was a really scary incident.

The passengers were not told anything when the plane turned back to Christchurch and it seemed to be very panicky towards the end, she said.

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Lauren Bowerman​ said the pilots could not say anything as they had to put oxygen masks on when the light illuminated, but reports of there being smoke in the cockpit were incorrect. Rather a faulty smoke detector was to blame.

About 10 minutes before the plane landed, passengers were told the plane had turned back to Christchurch and they should prepare for an emergency landing, she said.

Staff told us to look at the card and the brace position, which I think everybody did, and people braced, Kilty​ said.

The plane seemed to come down very steeply. It landed with a few bumps and shaking, but then it sort of settled on to the runway.

The passengers clapped, thinking the incident was over.

We sat there for about five minutes and then all of a sudden, over the loudspeaker came an urgent message: evacuate, evacuate, evacuate, Kilty said.

They said leave your belongings behind … it was a bit of a panic. They opened emergency exits, you had to scramble out.

"I clambered out and jumped out into the arms of people hi-vis people who were there to help.

Bowerman​ said after landing, the pilots stopped on the runway to assess the situation, then taxied towards the gate.

When the aircraft was parked by the gate, cabin crew told the captain there might be smoke in the toilet and passengers had to evacuate immediately.

Most passengers evacuated through the emergency stairs at the back of the aircraft, but some got out through an emergency exit window at the front.

Ground staff helped passengers down to the tarmac, she said.

Passengers got their belongings back after they were checked by Fire and Emergency New Zealand staff.

Engineers inspected the aircraft and found a faulty smoke detector caused the problem, she said.

The plane returned to the skies on Tuesday morning.

As well, a passenger flight heading to Wellington was forced to return to Christchurch due to an engineering problem.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said flight NZ5346 from Christchurch to Wellington had to return to Christchurch on Wednesday morning.

Pilots decided to go back as a precaution because of a potential engineering issue.

She said the aircraft landed without incident about 10.40am.

Customers will be accommodated on alternative services and the aircraft will be inspected by engineers, she said.

Tourism Observer

Sunday 4 August 2019

MALTA: Air Malta Business Class Boosted

Air Malta has introduced improvements to its business class product that should help the airline attract more corporate traffic.

While Malta is a large and fast-growing tourist destination, the economy is also expanding rapidly, leading to growth in business travel its airline is keen to exploit.

The flag carrier has enhanced its business class service ahead of a major fleet renewal project which involves replacing its entire fleet of A320ceo family aircraft with A320neos.

The first A320neo was delivered in 2018 and two more are slated to be received by the end of August, chairman Charles Mangion told CAPA TV on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Seoul, South Korea, in early June.

Air Malta is equipping its A320neos with wi-fi, providing business and leisure passengers a better inflight experience. All aircraft will have wi-fi once the entire fleet transitions to A320neos.

The airline currently operates seven A320ceos, one A319ceo and one A320neo. The A320neo and some of the A320ceos are configured with 180 seats while the remaining A320ceos have 168 seats and the A319 has 141 seats.

The future fleet will have one common 180-seat configuration, resulting in a more consistent product.

While Air Malta is retaining the same flexible business class cabin as it transitions to the A320neo it recently improved the product for all flights.

We have improved massively our business class and it is doing very well, Mr Mangion said.

He added that demand is strong due to the Malta’s economic growth: Many executives reside on the island now permanently – and even with their families – and they need to travel a lot.

And they always prefer to travel on our planes in business class. The business class is a good source of revenues for the company and we intend to improve that as much as possible.

There is no change to the seat; Air Malta only has economy seats but blocks the middle seat and moves the curtain depending on the number of business passengers.

However, improvement areas include check-in, security, lounges and inflight catering.

We have improved the service on board. We have also improved from the moment the individual enters the airport until he leaves on the other side at the end of his voyage … small details which weren’t up to scratch in my opinion, we are improving.

Air Malta has only one route with a flight time of over three hours (Moscow) and no routes more than four hours.

However, Mr Mangion points out there is a segment of travellers that for a three-hour flight want a little more of their privacy and to be pampered on board. We are having a very good response and comments since we have introduced it.

The airline has reportedly been considering long haul services but this does not seem to be a priority. Air Malta is also not now considering A220s, as previously reported, but is focusing on A320neos and routes of less than four hours.

The airline introduced 21 new routes in 2018 and currently has 41 destinations. It is now focusing on expanding to existing destinations although three experimental routes are being launched this year – Warsaw (once weekly summer only), Tbilisi (once weekly summer only) and Cairo (twice weekly beginning in September).

Air Malta has adopted a hybrid model and in economy is offering an unbundled product - checked luggage, seat assignments and food are not included with basic fares that enables it to compete for price sensitive leisure passengers.

This is necessary as Air Malta faces stiff competition from LCCs, which have been expanding rapidly in Malta, but at the same time is keen to attract business and corporate passengers.

Tourism Observer

EUROPE: More Tourists Visit Europe

Italy had more overnight stays by foreign nationals than tourist hotspot France.

The country's government tourist board said there were 216.5 million such stays in 2018 in Italy, compared with 140.7m in France.

Spain, it added, was highest in Europe with 301 million.

It said foreigners spent €41.7 billion in Italy last year, boosting the Italian economy and gross domestic product by 1.5%.

Foreign tourism overall in Italy increased by 2.8% compared to 2017, making up 13% of Italy’s GDP.

Tourism is expected to grow even further as the Chinese market continues to expand.

Chinese tourists continue to put Europe at the top of their favourite destinations despite the relative slow-down in the Chinese economy and any concerns about Brexit, according to the latest figures from the European Travel Commission (ETC) in collaboration with the leading air travel analyst ForwardKeys, which monitors 17 million flight bookings a day.

The data shows there was a 5.1% year-on-year increase in Chinese arrivals in EU destinations during January-December 2018.

The ETC says the latest figures show that the EU-China Tourism Year 2018, designed to promote the EU as a tourism destination to the rapidly-growing Chinese market, continues to deliver success.

Over the course of 2018, the top three EU destinations in terms of volume of Chinese arrivals were the UK ( +2.4%), Germany (+2.6%) and France (+7.7%). The three most growing destinations were Croatia (+45.7%), Estonia (+35.8%) and Hungary (+25.1%).

In the context of Brexit, it is interesting to note that if the UK were excluded from the data, the performance of the EU would look even stronger, with arrivals in the whole of 2018 up 5.8%, as opposed to up 5.1% with the UK included.

Similarly, looking ahead, forward bookings are 17.7% ahead for the period January-April 2019, as opposed to 16.9% with the UK included.

Chinese tourists are continuing to put Europe at the top of their favourite destinations despite the relative slow-down in the Chinese economy and any concerns about Brexit, according to the latest figures from the European Travel Commission (ETC), produced in collaboration with the air travel analyst ForwardKeys.

The data shows there was a 5.1% year-on-year increase in Chinese arrivals in EU destinations during 2018 and ETC says the latest figures show that the EU-China Tourism Year 2018, designed to promote the EU as a tourism destination to the rapidly-growing Chinese market, continues to deliver success.

The 2018 EU-China Tourism Year initiative has been extremely successful. And we continue to see the benefits in 2019, explains Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission.

The growth in Chinese travellers has been solid, and the near future, judging by current bookings, will see the EU continuing to increase its share of this valuable market, not just to traditional destinations, but lesser-known and emerging ones as well,” he adds.

Over the course of 2018, the top three EU destinations in terms of volume of Chinese arrivals were the UK (up 2.4%), Germany (up 2.6%) and France (up 7.7%). The three fastest growing destinations were Croatia (up 45.7%), Estonia (up 35.8%) and Hungary (up 25.1%).

Forward bookings into 2019 also look robust, according to the ForwardKeys analysis of booking data. As of 31-Dec-2018, Chinese bookings to the EU for the first four months of 2019 were 16.9% ahead of where they were at the end of 2017. This compares very favourably to the global trend, which is 9.3% ahead.

In the context of Brexit, it is also interesting to note that if the UK were excluded from the data, the performance of the EU would look even stronger, with arrivals up 5.8%, as opposed to up 5.1% when the UK included.

Similarly, looking ahead, forward bookings are 17.7% ahead for the period January-April 2019, as opposed to 16.9% with the UK included.

The data also shows that Chinese bookings for trips to the EU during the 2019 Chinese New Year season are ahead 9.2% compared to last year – well above the global average of 0.2%.

It also identifies that Chinese travellers are arriving early, two-weeks before the Golden Week. Some return home in time to celebrate New Year, while others are choosing longer stays and celebrate in EU destinations.

This positive near-term outlook echoes a pattern that was seen last year. Then Chinese travel to the EU registered above-global-average performances for the two Golden Week periods in 2018.

Within the EU, Central/Eastern Europe was the fastest growing region, and outperformed the EU average during each of the three busy periods (the two Golden Weeks and the summer school break).

Overall Chinese departures from mainland China were up 5.2% during 2018, and bookings are estimated to be up around 16.7% for January-April 2019.

It is a similar picture for Hong Kong and Macao – up 7.6% for 2018, and ahead 35.4% for the first four months of 2019. Tier-two cities, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Xiamen are showing strong growth: up 18.1% for 2018, with bookings ahead 51.3% in the January-April 2019 period.

Analysis of OAG schedule data from CAPA – Centre for Aviation shows the continued growth in connectivity between China and Europe. Over the first quarter of 2019 the number of available seats from China to Europe is up 12.4% year-on-year.

Tourism Observer

CARIBBEAN: Tourists Exposed To Toxic Sargassum Weed

Tourists to the Caribbean may not realize that a brown drifting seaweed that's been piling up on beaches in recent years is dangerous, researchers say.

Travelers and doctors alike should be aware that prolonged contact with the Sargassum weed, or inhaling the hydrogen sulfide gas it gives off as it decomposes on the beach, can cause heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, vertigo, headache and skin rashes.

I've observed patients returning from affected areas with unusual symptoms that were reminiscent of an intoxication syndrome in the absence of alternate explanations, said Dr. Andrea Boggild, clinical director of the Tropical Disease Unit at Toronto General Hospital.

The more research I did on the topic, the more I realized that this really is an issue that continues to fly under the radar of most medical professionals, she underlined.

Boggild and co-author Dr. Mary Elizabeth Wilson of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston report that beginning in 2011, larger-than-normal rafts of the brown seaweed began washing up on shores around the Caribbean, originating from the northeast coast of Brazil, and by 2018, record amounts were reported.

The seaweed also occurs in China's Yellow Sea, where it's known as golden tide.

Decomposing Sargassum releases hydrogen sulfide gas and ammonia, which can cause respiratory, skin and neurocognitive symptoms in both local residents and tourists.

Toxic exposure typically happens during decomposition, which is about 48 hours after it washes ashore.

On the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique alone, more than 11,000 cases of acute Sargassum toxicity were reported during an eight-month period in 2018.

If the rafts of Sargassum continue, and there is no expectation that they will not, it is likely that medical practitioners will increasingly encounter returning travelers with a range of associated symptoms, Wilson said.

No specific treatment for Sargassum toxicity exists, although supportive medical care can help. Doctors typically have to diagnose the source of symptoms by ruling out other possibilities.

It would be better for travelers to avoid exposure to the seaweed in the first place and to be careful about tour operators or hotels that may not be transparent about the severity of the rafts in the area, the authors write.

Travelers should consult local news media and search for information about Sargassum in their intended destination, Boggild said.

With Sargassum accumulating along the coasts of Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and the lesser Antilles during the past year.

Collaborations have begun among oceanographers, ecologists, marine biologists and public health agencies to understand the causes, health effects and prevention strategies.

Tourism Observer

SOUTH SUDAN: Airport Officials Detained Illegally Since November 2018

South Sudanese authorities are detaining six airport officials without trial since November 2018, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch stated in a report that the National Security Service (NSS) arrested the six individuals at various times in November on fraud allegations.

The international rights group said the six officials remain detained unlawfully without authorization by any judicial authority, pointing out that the cases are part of a pattern of unlawful detentions by national security and law enforcement authorities in South Sudan.

The group revealed that security agents arrested David Subek Dada, chief executive officer of the South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority and a dual South Sudan-Australian national in his 50s, on November 8 on accusations of fraud.

It noted that the case relates to a dispute over payment of landing fees by the Kenyan airline, Fly540, which the government says has not paid the required fees.

Human Rights Watch pointed out that security officials subsequently summoned and arrested four other staff members of the Civil Aviation Authority – Santino Payo, David Lado Laki, Simon Lokonga, and Jackline Ibrahim – and an employee of the airline Fly540, Mercy Lalam, later in November.

These cases exemplify how South Sudan's government fails to respect the basic rights of accused people, said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

South Sudan's authorities need to respect due process protections in national and international law and should immediately release these six airport officials and if they intend to charge them, do so promptly, she added.

Human Rights Watch said it has reviewed documents that show the National Security Service concluded an investigation in December based on offenses including cheating, criminal breach of trust, and forgery and then transferred the detainees to the Juba Central Prison on January 12, 2019.

A public prosecutor recommended releasing one of the detainees, Subek Dada, on bail in December due to health concerns. Subek is diabetic and has high blood pressure but has not received adequate medical treatment, the report said.

Under South Sudan's laws, all detainees, whether arrested by the police or the security services are accorded basic rights.

The constitution provides that the person should be taken before a court within 24 hours of arrest.

South Sudan's criminal laws say pretrial detention should not exceed six months, unless extended by a court order.

The International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which South Sudan is party, allows pretrial detention only as an exception and says that it should be as short as possible and that defendants should be tried without undue delay.

Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, the security service has been at the helm of abuses that include arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and other forms of ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances.

Security agents have targeted perceived dissidents, human rights defenders, and journalists.

Authorities have also failed to respect the basic rights of accused people in the regular jails and prisons.

Human Rights Watch has documented weaknesses in the criminal justice system such as arbitrary detentions, including detaining relatives of suspects if the authorities cannot find the suspects; poor conditions in detention; and violations of fair trial rights.

Tourism Observer